Financial documents to take with you ahead of Hurricane Irma

Personal Finance

What key personal and financial documents should you bring with you in an evacuation?

Hurricane Irma is on track to reach Florida on Saturday or Sunday before making its way up the coast, and officials in both Florida and Georgia have issues evacuation orders for areas that could be affected.

Florida officials have issued mandatory evacuation orders in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties and voluntary evacuation orders in Collier County, according to a statement from Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office. Broward County has issued mandatory evacuation orders for some areas and voluntary evacuation orders for others.

“Additional orders are expected as the storm nears the state,” according to a Wednesday prepared statement from Scott.

On Thursday, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 30 counties, and issued a mandatory evacuation order for areas at risk of potential storm surges from Irma.

Priority in an evacuation should be given to your own safety, certified financial planner Ann Coulson, an associate professor at Kansas State University’s Institute of Personal Financial Planning, told CNBC earlier this year. While it can help to bring with you harder-to-replace documents (like birth certificates) or ones that can help in the aftermath of a storm (such as your insurance policy), tracking those down shouldn’t delay evacuating.

“A lot depends on time,” she said. “Their lives should come first.”

Ideally, consumers should have important documents already gathered and stored in a watertight, fire-protected safe as part of a disaster preparedness plan. You might consider making electronic copies that can be uploaded to secure cloud storage service, in the event you are not allowed to return to your home after a storm.

Based on recommended lists from the Red Cross, the Insurance Information Institute and ASPCA, here’s some of the documentation that would be good to bring with you, if possible, in an evacuation.

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